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Theaters to studios: Share the data on premium VOD experiment

May 4, 2011 |  1:31 pm

Firing another round in its war with Hollywood's big movie distributors, the National Assn. of Theatre Owners on Wednesday called on the major studios to disclose results of their "experiment" in the early release of premium-priced movies into the home.

Theater owners have been up in arms over moves by studios to charge consumers about $30 to watch movies distributed through video-on-demand about 60 days after their opening in cinemas. While studios say they need to experiment with new approaches at a time when DVD sales are falling, exhibitors contend that such early releases will hurt their business by discouraging consumers from watching movies in theaters.

The movies released by DirecTV so far include Sony Pictures' "Just Go With It," which debuted on VOD two weeks ago, followed by "Cedar Rapids" from 20th Century Fox and "Hall Pass" from Warner Bros. The Universal Pictures movie "The Adjustment Bureau" is scheduled for release this week.

Although studios don't normally disclose VOD results for individual movies, NATO executives said they should make an exception given how much is at stake.

"What's an experiment without data?" NATO President John Fithian asked in a statement. "Every weekend -- usually before the weekend is over -- the performance of movies at the U.S. box office is reported around the world.  Studio executives are working the phones, touting the stellar box office for hit movies and explaining the underperformance of the flops. When it comes to premium VOD --crickets."

Studios declined to comment on NATO's remarks. A person close to Sony said the recent VOD release for its comedy "Just Go With It," starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, had no effect on box-office results for the film, which opened in February and has garnered $210.4 million in worldwide ticket sales to date.


Theater chains escalating fight with studios as premium video on demand looms 

Hollywood firming up launch plans for premium video on demand

DirecTV poised to launch premium video on demand as theater executives voice outrage

-- Richard Verrier